Jamie Foale, who launched Playfinder in 2014, speaks to sportindustry.biz about the challenges for grassroots sport and expansion into the app world…
What can you tell us about My Local Pitch?
I launched MyLocalPitch in January 2014 with Sandford Loudon to enable people to search and book sports venues online. The existing processes were laborious so MyLocalPitch aimed to streamline the process, which in turn has boosted grassroots sports participation and the ease of managing sports venues.
How does it work?
MyLocalPitch works with providers of sports venues in London and Dublin, who have the best pitches, courts and other sports facilities. The company provides booking software and marketing services for venues as well as providing a web and mobile platform for sports players to search and book pitches.
Owners include a non-executive director of the Premier League, a majority shareholder in Swansea City AFC, the former chairman of the FA and an ex-Ireland international footballer.
After launching last year, how has progress been?
MyLocalPitch is growing quickly and has signed up the largest venue operators in London, including PowerLeague, Fusion and GLL. There are 15 sports available through the site with thousands of active users enjoying access to over 4,000 pitches and courts on MLP’s database. Since inception there have been more than 14,000 bookings placed.
The MyLocalPitch app launched in November which was a major milestone for the business. It enables users to search and book sports venues on the move to further simplify the process.
What does the app offer that’s different to anything else out there?
This is the first app to provide a search and booking portal for grassroots sports. Half of MLP’s users come from mobile and tablet devices so it’s always been our intention to create a simple product that allows users to find and book sport on the move.
The app allows users to compare prices, search for their favourite surfaces, and book indoor venues. The app also lets users search for pitches nearby, wherever they are, using geo-location.
What’s been the biggest challenge?
Speaking to local government to explain the benefits of modernising the sports booking process. Many local councils have been slow to adopt new methods of taking bookings and creating a way for them to do so has and will create efficiencies to benefit all parties.
MyLocalPitch is looking at other cities in the UK and also abroad, as approaches have been made from North America, Europe and South Africa. The initial focus is expanding to Manchester and Birmingham in 2016. Meetings have already been held with a number of influential decision makers at Manchester council at a soccer event last year.
Birmingham is an interesting proposition as there’s a keen sporting population, as well as a progressive mindset between the operators to embrace new technologies.